‘Palan ordered Mwila’s suspension’

THE Lusaka Magistrates Court yesterday heard how Game Stores manager Maduramauthoo Palan ordered the suspension of his former worker Mukamuluti Mwila after she refused to pick a small piece of paper she dropped on the floor.

Game Stores deputy administration manager Zelia Chilinda told the court yesterday that Mwila dropped a piece of paper as she was taking money from daily sales to the cash room.

Ms Chilinda, 38, said Palan saw the paper dropping from Ms Mwila and called her back to pick it up.

The witness said she did not see the incident happening but got interested after Palan called Ms Mwila to go back and collect the paper which she had dropped on the floor.

Ms Chilinda was testifying before principal resident magistrate Aridah Chulu in a matter in which Palan 46, of house number 8, Mass Media area, is facing two counts of indecent assault and sexual abuse.

In first count, Palan is alleged to have between June 1, 2013 and July 31, 2014 unlawfully and indecently assaulted Ms Mwila.

In the second count, Palan is alleged to have practised sexual harassment which caused discomfort to Ms Mwila.

“The boss called her to go back and pick up a small piece of paper which dropped. Muki did not go back, she said she would go back later after taking the cash to the cash room,” Ms Chilinda said.

She said when Ms Mwila did not go back immediately to pick up the paper, Palan complained Ms Mwila’s work attitude.

“The stores manager was not happy and asked me to speak to Muki,” Ms Chilinda said.

She said Palan then proposed that Ms Mwila should go for a one week break from work and then Ms Mwila’s boss Tandai Mhango acted according to instruction issued by Palan.

Ms Chilinda said when Ms Mwila resumed work a few days and fell ill and stopped going for work, and Palan suggested that she should be given another week to recuperate.

She said when Ms Mwila recovered and reported for work, it was time for employees to get new contracts but Ms Mwila’s contract was not renewed. Ms Chilinda said when the matter was followed with Palan, he told Ms Mwila’s superior that if Ms Mwila contract was not renewed, she should go back home and only return when the contract would be ready. She said Palan did not follow the procedure of handling a disciplinary matter but acted on decree.

“When the boss wants things to be done, they have to be done just like that. It was not a procedure but an instruction,” Ms Chilinda said.

Ms Chilinda also said when Ms Mwila was removed as cashier she was taken to store office where she was working with other two male workers, where they were carrying carton boxes. She said although Ms Mwila was working in that office, she was not happy and on a number of occasions she asked Ms Mwila about her condition but she never said anything.

“While working upstairs, one day Muki fell ill, and she stopped coming for work. The Store manager noticed her absence and she suggested that she should be given more days,” Ms Chilinda said.